Who will manage your dream team?

Howard Wilkinson
Howard Wilkinson
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It’s a debate always doing the rounds in pubs, clubs and workplaces among football fans across the region - what’s your best ever team? We have been calling on the followers of Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday to tell us who would be in their best ever side since the Second World War. You have now voted for your Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday dream teams - and your final line-ups will be revealed next week. Today we ask you to chose your top manager. As usual, we are offering up four past bosses from each club and it’s your choice that counts - the man who gets the most votes will be named boss of the Dream Team. Happy voting!

SOME of the biggest names in English football have managed Sheffield Wednesday.

Harry Catterick

Harry Catterick

Just picking the four on our shortlist for the boss’s role in our post-War Dream Team was hard enough.

Some people will be surprised that Jack Charlton and Trevor Francis have not even made the list.

Big Jack was a tremendous coup for the board when he was hired in 1977: he turned the club from Third Division strugglers into promotion winners three years later and led them to an FA Cup semi final; but after the Owls had established themselves in the second tier he had seemingy taken them as far as he could and he stepped down after a six-year reign.

His successor was far less well known, at the time: but Howard Wilkinson, manager of Notts County, an Owls fan and former Wednesday player, revitalised the club.

Dave Bassett

Dave Bassett

Wilkinson, with the know- how to get the best out of players and snatch bargains in the transfer market, took Wednesday back to the top flight in his first season after they had been away for 14 years.

He also built a side that took the old First Division by storm and would have qualified for Europe had English teams not been banned from taking part.

Under him, Wednesday finished eight in their first season back in the top flight and pulled off memorable wins, for example at Liverpool and Manchester United.

The year after that, they finished fifth and got to the last four of the FA Cup.

Ian Porterfield

Ian Porterfield

Wilkinson’s reign also included a sprinkling of quarter-finals, in the FA or League Cup.

After the dark days of the Seventies, the Wilkinson era made it a happy time to be a Wednesdayite.

When he was lured away by Leeds after a five-year reign, he had been disillusioned by a shortage of financial backing from the board. Wednesday’s loss was Leeds’ gain: he transformed the Elland Road club from strugglers in the old second tier to title-winners at that level and in the top division.

After Charlton and Wilkinson, and a brief spell in charge for Peter Eustace, it was case of ‘follow that”, for the Hillsborough board. They did it with another coup: Ron Atkinson.

Eric Taylor.

Eric Taylor.

Big Ron has the distinction of having led the Owls to their only major trophy of the last 76 years: the League Cup in 1991.

His first job was to steer the club away from relegation trouble in the old Second Division: he put together a team that achieved that.

There is a blot on his record, however. Towards the end of an undistinguished 1989-90 season the Owls appeared to have made themselves safe with six games to go. But they lost five of them and went down.

Then came one of the most exhilarating seasons of the last 30 years: playing some sublime attacking football, and with signings that included men such as John Sheridan, Roland Nilsson, Carlton Palmer, Trevor Francis, Viv Anderson and John Harkes, Wednesday won promotion at the first attempt, as well as beating Manchester United at Wembley. Atkinson controversially quit to join Aston Villa. He was re-appointed at Hillsborough in 1997 after the sacking of David Pleat and kept the club in the Premier League: but his contract was not renewed as Wednesday looked for a fresh start.

In between his spells with the club, his protege Trevor Francis made his own mark in a four-year stay, including third place in the top flight, and the two Cup finals of 1993.

Francis owed a lot to the legacy of players that Atkinson left behind, though he did bring in stars of his own including Des Walker and Chris Waddle. The team were beginning to falter at the time he was sacked in 1995 but TF could count himself unlucky not to have made the shortlist.

John Harris

John Harris

Other potential candidates included Vic Buckingham, who achieved three successive sixth placings in the old First Division in the Sixties and Alan Brown, who took the club to the FA Cup final in 1966.

But look further back and two giants of the Hillsborough scene stand out: Eric Taylor and Harry Catterick.

Taylor was not known as Mr Sheffield Wednesday for nothing. He worked for the club for 45 years, rising from office boy to secretary-manager, and he ran the team from 1942 to 1958.

He was perhaps largely known as an outstanding, visionary administrator who controlled the club in the widest sense and left a lasting mark on Hillsborough with its securing of matches in the 1966 World Cup, the building of the North Stand and the development of the stadium as one of the finest in the country and a regular venue for FA Cup semi-finals. But while he left day-to-day training to his coaches, he knew the game and was astute in his judgment of players and operations in the transfer market, going out to watch targets himself. His players regarded him as a father figure.

His reign included the yo-yo years of the Fifties when the club went up and down between the First and Second divisions, but he was credited with signing or nurturing all but one of the team who finished runners-up to double-winning Spurs in 1961 when Harry Catterick was team manager..

Taylor’s finds or signings included Derek Dooley, Don Megson, Alan Finney, Ron Springett, Gerry Young, Redfern Froggatt, Eddie Gannon, Albert Quixall, Roy Shiner, Tony Kay, Tom McAnearney, Derek Wilkinson, John Fantham and British record signing Jackie Sewell.

When Taylor became secretary and general manager in 1958, Catterick, who had been boss at Rochdale, was appointed as the first man in the club’s history to take sole charge of team matters.

He took the Owls to the Second Division title in his first season.

In his second season, they finished fifth and reached the FA Cup semi-finals.

In his third, they reached the FA Cup quarter-finals and were beaten for the First Division championship only by an exceptional Tottenham team.

Catterick too must take credit too for the blossoming of players such as Springett, Kay, Megson, Fantham and Peter Swan.

He either did not, or was not able to, spend much in the transfer market: Bobby Craig was his biggest signing at £6,500.

It was said that there was friction between him and Taylor, in view of the latter’s pervading influence, and that Catterick was dissatisfied because of a lack of transfer money.

Catterick resigned in April, 1961, and less than two weeks later was back at Hillsborough as Everton manager. It was the Owls’ third-from-last match of the season, and they lost 2-1.

The Goodison Park boss went on to win two top-flight titles with his new club and take the FA Cup in 1996 with a comeback victory against Wednesday.

So who is the man to manage the Owls Dream Team: Wilkinson, Atkinson, Taylor or Catterick? It’s over to you...

To Vote For Owls

To vote for your favourite player simply email us at promotions@sheffieldnewspapers.co.uk with the subject as Best Team Ever Owls, stating your name, address, telephone number and the number of the player you are voting for. Alternatively you can text us your vote by texting STA (space) OWLS (space) followed by the number of the player you are voting for and sending to 61500.

Deadline for entries is Sunday, August 21 2011 at 10am.

Usual SNL rules apply, full terms and conditions available on request by contacting Star promotions, York Street, Sheffield, S1 1PU or alternatively go online at www.johnstonpress.co.uk/jpplc/competition

Texts cost 50p plus your usual network rate. The Editor’s decision is final. By supplying your telephone number you’re happy to receive SMS messages from Johnston Press and its approved business partners. Johnston Press (or via its agents) and its business partners may contact you about new promotions, products and services. Please add the word EXIT at the end of your message if you do not wish to receive these. Please note if you should enter after the stated closing date your entry will not be valid but you still may be charged. For quality and training purposes we may monitor communications. SMS service is provided by Velti DR Ltd SE1 8ND - 020 7633 5000.

A MANAGER’S lot is never easy.

Perform to the very best of your ability and someone else will always claim they could do a better job.

Win a game and, in the eyes of many supporters, it is because your backroom staff are astute tacticians.

But a heavy defeat? You inevitably shoulder the blame.

Success, as Danny Wilson insisted following his recent appointment, comes in many forms.

But it is impossible, irrespective of the criteria by which they are judged, to deny that John Harris, Ian Porterfield, Dave Bassett and Neil Warnock were anything other than forces for good during their tenures at Bramall Lane.

Warnock, of course, was responsible for providing United with their last taste of Premiership football.

An experience which, were it not for a combination of controversies, they might still be enjoying now rather than plotting an escape route out of League One.

Like all his predecessors featuring on this list, Warnock often split terrace opinion during his time at the helm.

But how many of those who frequently called for his dismissal, particularly when promotion was not achieved following an ill-fated play-off final appearance in 2003, would now claim that it was a wise decision to part company with the 62-year-old following United’s relegation from the top flight four seasons later.

Particularly as, earlier that term, he had also led the club he followed as a boy to the semi-finals of both domestic cup competitions.

United were seemingly destined for the drop when Warnock took charge in 1999.

But the man-management skills he had honed during succesful spells with Scarborough, Notts County, Huddersfield Town and Plymouth Argyle eventually weaved their magic.

Arguably Warnock’s greatest talent, other than charming the media, was an ability to transform journey men players or professionals supposedly way past their best into effective operators.

As Neil Shipperley, the former Chelsea and Barnsley striker once reflected: “Everyone thought my career was pretty much over when the gaffer signed me. Myself included. But after just a couple of training sessions with him I felt 10 feet tall.”

Crystal Palace and Queens Park Rangers, who he has just steered back into the top-flight, are the latest teams to reap the benefits of Warnock’s presence.

Statistically Kevin Blackwell, who having served as Warnock’s assistant before returning following an eventful apprencticeship at Leeds, is the best manager in United’s post war history and were it not for defeat in the 2009 play-off final, his case for inclusion would be irrestistible. Unfortunately, though, promotion eluded him.

Unlike Bassett who famously delivered it twice. His down to earth approach draws comparisons with Warnock to this very day.

But they were very different operators who grappled with a completely different set of circumstances.

Bassett’s reign did not get off to the greatest of starts and, having arrived from Watford in 1988, he was unable to save United from relegation to English football’s third tier.

It proved a temporary blip as, only three years later, they found themselves rubbing shoulders with the game’s elite and became founder members of the Premier League.

Responsible for polishing raw diamonds such as Tony Agana and Brian Deane, Bassett’s ability to make the most of the options at his disposal saw United finish the first ever FAPL season in a creditable 14th place. They also reached the last four of the FA Cup.

In 1994, after defying the odds for so long, United dropped out of the Premier League.

Just as would be the case 13 years later, there were claims that they had been the unwitting victims of forces beyond their control.

Wilson will be able to sympathise with some of the challenges Portfield faced upon appointment in 1981 having also represent Sheffield Wednesday earlier in his career.

Perhaps best known for scoring Sunderland’s winner in the 1973 FA Cup final, the Scot would have been rightly proud of his achievements in the dug-out when in 2007, he died after being diagnosed with cancer.

United had just been relegated to the Fourth Division when Porterfield, who cut his coaching teeth at Rotherham, was given a five season time frame to steer them back into the First. He came agonisingly close.

Porterfield completed the opening stage of his mission at the first time of asking. The second, after one missed opportunity, duly followed.

With the transfer funding, which had previously been gladly made available by chairman Reg Brearley now in short-supply, Porterfield was unable to guide United back into the top-flight and was replaced by Billy McEwan in 1986; nearly five years after first taking residence at Bramall Lane.

Scot John Harris succeeded Joe Mercer in 1959 and won friends and admiration in equal measure for his understated style. A tough-tackling centre-half and former captain of Chelsea, Harris subscribed to the theory that no manager was more important than his players.

But despite his under-stated demeanour, Harris was a shrewd operator in the transfer market and recruited great names such as Tony Currie, Alan Woodward, Trevor Hockey and Len Badger before tendering his resignation in December 1973.

Harris, who died in 1988, actually enjoyed two spells in charge of United.

Regular progress was made in both the FA and League cups following his appointment in 1959 as well as promotion from the Second Division.

After a brief stint as general manager, he returned to the number one role in 1969 and repeated the feat again before becoming United’s senior executive.

To Vote For Blades

To vote for your favourite player simply simply email us at promotions@sheffieldnewspapers.co.uk with the subject as Best Team Ever Blades, stating your name, address, telephone number and the number of the player you are voting for. Alternatively you can text us your vote by texting STA (space) BLADES (space) followed by the number of the player you are voting for and sending to 61500.

Deadline for entries is Sunday, August 21 2011 at 10am.

Usual SNL rules apply, full terms and conditions available on request by contacting Star promotions, York Street, Sheffield, S1 1PU or alternatively go online at www.johnstonpress.co.uk/jpplc/competition

Texts cost 50p plus your usual network rate. The Editor’s decision is final. By supplying your telephone number you’re happy to receive SMS messages from Johnston Press and its approved business partners. Johnston Press (or via its agents) and its business partners may contact you about new promotions, products and services. Please add the word EXIT at the end of your message if you do not wish to receive these. Please note if you should enter after the stated closing date your entry will not be valid but you still may be charged. For quality and training purposes we may monitor communications. SMS service is provided by Velti DR Ltd SE1 8ND - 020 7633 5000.

Ron Atkinson

Ron Atkinson

Neil Warnock

Neil Warnock